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Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BONG O. WENCESLAO WENCESLAO, 11

FUNNY how the 119 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who voted to give P1,000 bud­get for the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights (CHR) next year are slowly but surely be­ing ex­posed for their im­ma­ture ac­tion. Even those who led govern­ment units that are usu­ally sub­jected to scru­tiny by the CHR even frowned on the act of the House ma­jor­ity (only 32 mem­bers op­posed the peg­ging of the CHR bud­get at P1,000).

“CHR is a con­sti­tu­tional body, eh. Gawa ng batas ‘yan, con­sti­tu­tion yan. The peo­ple there can’t be re­moved. It has the right to be funded.” Thats De­fense Chief Delfin Loren­zana speak­ing to re­porters in an am­bush in­ter­view. For Loren­zana, the ex­is­tence of the CHR is im­por­tant for checks and bal­ances.

“For one, it keeps govern­ment of­fi­cials, es­pe­cially the mil­i­tary and po­lice, na in­gat sila sa gi­na­gawa nila, be­cause any­thing that they will do ay li­able sila sa hu­man rights vi­o­la­tion. For check and bal­ance,” he said.

Loren­zana, a for­mer gen­eral, is even proud of the mil­i­tary’s re­la­tion­ship with the CHR, say­ing: “Ini­im­bita ko ‘yan noon para mag-lec­ture be­cause peo­ple should be taught what is hu­man rights sa con­sti­tu­tion. May­roon na nga tay­ong mga hu­man rights sa units eh—we have a hu­man rights rep­re­sen­ta­tive in every unit of the AFP down to the com­pany and bat­tal­ion na sila na­gl­elec­ture ng mga tao on hu­man rights.”

Even the con­tro­ver­sial chief of the Oza­miz City po­lice, Jovie Espenido has a more ma­ture ap­pre­ci­a­tion of CHR’s role than the House ma­jor­ity. Espenido was in Cebu City as one of the guest speak­ers of the con­fer­ence of the league of Min­danao barangay of­fi­cials. Espenido re­port­edly said that the CHR should be re­spected be­cause it can check the abuses com­mit­ted by law en­forcers. He wants the CHR, though not to fo­cus on Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte but on in­di­vid­ual vi­o­la­tors.

If even the de­fense chief and the Oza­miz City po­lice chief can be open-minded about the role CHR plays in gover­nance, what does that say of the minds of those who voted to ap­pro­pri­ate a bud­get of P1,000 to the CHR? Or specif­i­cally, what does that say of the mind of House Speaker Pan­ta­leon Al­varez, who fa­mously told the CHR to seek fund­ing from crim­i­nals in­stead?

In­ci­den­tally, ef­forts to de­flect the wide­spread con­dem­na­tion of the act is afoot, with the de­fend­ers of the House move fo­cus­ing their guns on CHR Chief Chito Gas­con. Some law­mak­ers led by Al­varez are telling Gas­con to re­sign, with the im­pli­ca­tion that the orig­i­nal bud­get for the CHR would be given if he does. Ob­vi­ously, they want

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